Tagged: news

Second Life Herald Book Party, November 3

Second Life Herald book party, November 3It seems like forever since we first started working on it, but at last our book about the Second Life Herald — and about the metaverse in general — is being published (in a matter of days), and we’re planning a party to celebrate the fact. In case you missed it, I’ve written a book with philosophy professor and Herald founder Peter Ludlow. It features a colorful cast of virtual characters from places like Second Life, The Sims Online, World of Warcraft, EVE Online and various other places, as well as numerous flesh-and-blood people. Titled The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, the book not only chronicles the rise of the virtual world’s first and favorite tabloid, but looks as well at the increasingly important role that virtual spaces play in our everyday lives, and articulates the issues we’ll be facing as the societies now emerging in the metaverse grow in reach and influence.

It should be in bookstores momentarily, and you can already buy the thing online, but maybe the most fun way to acquire a copy would be to buy one at the party we’re having in Brooklyn on November 3. Continue reading

Google Virtual World Back in the Rumor Mill

Is Google building a Second Life-like virtual world? Google-watching blog Google Operating System thinks they might be, given that Arizona State University students will have the opportunity to test a new product that sounds very virtual worldy and that also sounds like it will require a Gmail account. Apparently to be “publicly launched later this year,” the product is developed by “a major Internet company” and, says Google Op, “there are hints that the application is related to social networking, 3D modeling and video games.” Want to know for sure? Enroll at ASU. That’s the only way to get in. You know Michael Arrington (from whom I first read this) has his spies crawling the campus already.

Anshe Chung Draws Venture Capital Investment

Anshe Chung Studios, which produces digital content and services for virtual worlds like Second Life, IMVU and others, has drawn a round of funding from New York venture capital firm Gladwyne Partners, who were early investors in the Electric Sheep Company. Sources at Gladwyne tell 3pointD the investment closed today, but wouldn’t reveal the amount. Gladwyne should be quite happy to have found another play in the virtual world sector; they’ve been looking very closely at the space since hopping into the Sheep pen. From the sound of things, they’re continuing the due diligence they’ve been doing throughout the space for the last year or two, so look for more, although it remains to be seen how soon. And congratulations to Anshe (or rather, to the husband-and-wife team behind the avatar), who has built an unparalleled “native” virtual-world brand over the last four years or so. Such companies should be under pressure from bigger, more established production houses, but none seem to have made significant in-roads. Anshe also has the advantage of having outsourced much of her studio’s work to employees in her native China, which may have made a difference to Gladwyne. In any case, it’s interesting to see just how far you can go with amateur content-creation, which is where Anshe started. Nice to see Gladwyne concentrating so heavily on the space, as well. We look forward to more.

NY Times on Second Life Economics and Utility

Terrific. I’m quoted in an article about Second Life in tomorrow’s New York Times. Which of the many topics covered in the interview am I quoted on? That’s right, cyber-genitalia and virtual McMansions. On the whole, though, the article is a pretty good deep dive on why people value such virtual goods, and what utility they derive from them. Check it out.

Best New Game Site: RockPaperShotgun.com

The crew at PC Gamer UK are without a doubt the best games writers in the business. (Put it this way: I pay over $100 a year for my subscription, and I no longer read any other games mags.) Every month, PCG(UK) provides the most sophisticated, most critical, most creative, and the funniest (without being too scatological — though they could still stand to dial back on the sexism) games writing out there. Now, a sub-crew of PCG writers — including Jim Rossignol and Kieron Gillen — as well as some friends, have launched a new site where they can range even more freely. Check out RockPaperShotgun, where there’s already some great stuff up (check out Gillen’s exclusive interview with Bioshock’s Ken Levine, for instance), and where I expect you’ll be able to find a higher level of games writing (at a lower cost) than is available from even the best games sites on the Web. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Escapist.)

Conduit Social Gaming World Gets $5.5m Round

Susan Wu, who was instrumental in arranging the Virtual Goods Summit I moderated a panel at in June, emailed me some embargoed news earlier today, and though I begged and pleaded, she asked me wait until midnight to post it. However, I see that the news is already out there, so I have to apologize to Susan and jump the gun, if only slightly: The news is that Charles River Ventures, where Susan is a partner, has just co-led a $5.5 million Series A financing of Conduit Labs, which is “building cool social entertainment destinations for you and your friends. We are bored of the same old social networks, virtual worlds, and MMOs,” according to its placeholder site. Over on Conduit’s blog, CEO Nabeel Hyatt is talking about the investment, and also tells the interesting story of how the comany got started. It’s hard to tell exactly what they’re building over at Conduit, but it sounds like a browser-based games network that’s somehow differentiated from what’s out there already. “We want to deliver a completely new kind of massively multiplayer experience — one that requires minutes, not hours, to access and learn, and one that is as rich and social as real-world activities like shooting hoops or jamming in a band. And we wanted it all in a browser, as accessible as your email,” Nabeel says. Later on, he puts Conduit “at the nexus of a lot of what’s happening on the social web, from Twitter to Areae” (which are both also CRV investments). I’ll be very interested to see what Conduit is cooking up, and whether there’s a form of “social gaming world” that could be that different from current offerings. Considering its backers, though, it’s definitely one to watch.

Congress Hears From Entropia on VW Taxation

It looks like MindArk, the company behind Entropia Universe (whose virtual currency is pegged and freely tradeable at 10 to the U.S. dollar), is getting in on the Washington lobbying act. Congress has been looking at issues of taxation related to virtual worlds since at least last October, and the Joint Economic Committee is long overdue with a promised report. (Or did I miss this?) This week, it seems, they’ll hear from Marco Behrmann, MindArk’s CIO, who is in Washington to speak to the IRS as well, according to this post on the RCE Universe forums. [Via RCEUniverse’s Nate Randall.] I’ll be interested to see where this all ends up, of course, but the most sensible take I’ve heard on this issue comes from Bryan Camp of Texas Tech University, who noted last year that, for the most part, the legal issues are settled, it’s just a matter of figuring out (or deciding) where virtual worlds fall within them. There’s probably slightly more to it than that, but not much. For my money, a more interesting issue is the related one of whether these environments can be ruled to be public places (like some shopping malls) and the implications of such a ruling for governing them. <shameless plug>You can read more about that kind of thing in our book when it’s published at the end of October.</shameless plug>

Virtual Goods Summit Videos Available

I’m wearing my Virtual Goods Summit t-shirt today, which isn’t really interesting except that it gives me an excuse to tell you that videos from the event have now been released. This was an excellent day of deep-diving into various business models and approaches to virtual goods — and probably features more information and more angles than you expect. The summit was arranged by Susan Wu of Charles River Ventures, and Charles Hudson, who, until recently, was in new business development at Google. What is Charles up to now? No idea. But he is super smart, very well connected, and friends with the super-smart and very well connected Susan, so whatever it is, it’s probably going to be interested. Stay tuned to his blog for updates.

Ambitious New Second Life Maps Mashup

Mappa Novus launches ambitious Second Life maps mashup

I hadn’t heard of Mappa Novus until someone dropped it in the comments here. The Mappa crew is doing interesting work creating maps of the virtual world of Second Life that seem to be mashed up with the Google Maps interface, and overlaid with data layers about population, land sales, etc. On top of that, they’ve layered some advanced edition maps that you can subscribe to for $7.95 a month or $19.95 for three months, which give extra data about land sales. The whole deal seems to be able the real estate business, as there’s also a land search tool available. They also have printed maps available for sale. Continue reading

Gaia Partners With Millions of Us For Advertisers

I’m still catching up from flying across the country today, but I have to post this one, since it’s pretty big news. Virtual world services and marketing firm Millions of Us has struck a partnership with Gaia Online, which bills itself as “the Web’s
fastest-growing hangout for teens.” According to a press release, the partnership is “designed to bring new advertising clients to both parties while providing Millions of Us with an additional community in which to conduct campaigns.” That’s pretty significant stuff, since Gaia, which boasts an active membership of more than two million, is not an open platform, as is the virtual world of Second Life, where Millions got its start — along with 3pointD’s sponsor, the Electric Sheep Company, and firms like Rivers Run Red and Infinite Visions Media. The press release doesn’t say whether the partnership is exclusive to Millions of Us, but it does open a new world to Millions that its competitors don’t currently have access to. Congrats to Reuben and co. Full press release reprinted below. Continue reading

MTV’s Virtual Lower East Side Takes Shape

MTV's Virtual Lower East Side goes into alphaHm, I must have fallen out of favor with the folks at MTV, since I heard about this not from them but from one of the artists involved in the project. What is it? It’s nothing less than Virtual Lower East Side, or vLES, for short, which is basically the implementation of what was to be known as MTV’s Music World. Using Doppelganger‘s technology, MTV has built out a more or less street-for-street replica of New York’s Lower East Side, complete with virtual versions of the area’s real clubs and restaurants. This is like the seedy sister world to Virtual Hills and Laguna Beach. Essentially, it’s a 3D virtual world with a MySpace for bands attached. If things are still on course, your band can get promoted from the Web-based social network into the virtual world, if you’re popular enough, with the distant possibility of actually getting into rotation on one of MTV’s channels if you do well enough there. (The site doesn’t say that, but that’s what I was told wehn I was working on the article linked above.) It’s just now in alpha, so you probably can’t get in yet, but the site shows some promising features, including a cool map highlighting the few establishments that have already been built out. But the $64 million question is, Can this gain any traction with young hipsters here and with those who aspire to hipsterdom elsewhwere but who can’t get to the Lower East Side they’ve always wanted to see?

Outback Online’s Peer-to-Peer Gaming Protocol

I’ve been interested in what little information is available about Outback Online and the “user-generated spaces” that Yoick CEO Rand Leeb-du Toit is building there, so when I read (in an article I’ve since lost the link to) that Australian research institute NICTA had developed the peer-to-peer technology that is supposed to make Outback more scalable than any 3D online world we’ve seen before, I got in touch. NICTA’s Dr. Santosh Kulkarni was kind enough to give me some time on the phone. Between what Dr. Kulkarni was able to reveal and what I was able to understand I seem to have got a rough outline of NICTA’s technology that hopefully sheds some light on the new techniques being developed there. Continue reading

Brian Eno and the Long Now in Second Life

Brian Eno's 77 Million paintings come to Second Life courtesy of the Long Now Foundation

Advance word comes to 3pointD that the Long Now Foundation (which has to be one of the coolest organizations on the face of the planet) will bring Brian Eno’s art installation, 77 Million Paintings, to the virtual world of Second Life at the end of June, concurrent with the show’s real-world opening. The virtual show is being built out by a startup metaverse services firm known as blueair.tv. For those who don’t know it, the Long Now Foundation is developing the world’s slowest computer, which is meant to “do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment.” As the site points out, “Such icons reframe the way people think.” The term “long now” was coined by Eno, who, for those who don’t know him, is one of the most influential contemporary musicians around, and also a Long Now board member. Eno has also been more closely involved with things metaversal of late, having hooked up with Will Wright some time back. (And if you don’t know who Will Wright is, you had really better start doing your homework.) No details yet of what the SL opening and build will feature, but if Eno is making an appearance it’s sure to be extra cool.

EVE Online to Get New Governance Tools? [+]

EVE Online to get new governance tools?I was just over in Iceland, visiting with CCP Games, makers of my favorite massively multiplayer online game, EVE Online. I was there to swap wisdom with some devs and attend CCP’s tenth anniversary party. We heard about a raft of new developments EVE has in the pipeline, most of which have been previously reported. One, though, was merely a tantalizing hint from CEO Hilmar Petursson, though it merits closer inspection, if you ask me. EVE and CCP have been hit lately by a raft of accusations that close ties between players and devs have made it easier for some in-game groups to dominate. In a blog post, the company acknowledges that a previous accusation has merit, while denying more recent claims. I haven’t followed the issue closely enough to have an opinion on either side, but it has certainly rocked the community and had a big impact within CCP itself, where there is now an Internal Affairs team to look into such allegations. It also sounds as if EVE may be in store for some new governance tools at some point in the future, tools that could help players resolve these sorts of conflicts for themselves. I’m basing that only on comments from Hilmar that “something big” is in store in that area, but considering that it’s EVE, that something could be very interesting indeed. [UPDATE: EVE will indeed get a player-led oversight committee.] Continue reading

Comcast Parachutes Into Second Life

Comcast comes to the virtual world of Second Life

Comcast, the largest provider of cable services in the US — and one of the world’s leading communications companies, providing broadband Internet and a host of other digital services — have had »an island« under development in the virtual world of Second Life for what seems like an eternity. I have tried on numerous occasions to gain access, since it looks rather intriguing on the Satellite Map view. Last night I gave it another go, and was pleasantly surprised to find myself standing in front of a teleport board, offering all manner of interesting pursuits. I had not picked up any hints that this site was due to open, and certainly the only other person present when I arrived was a developer, beavering away on various bits of fine tuning.

The build, from Millions of Us, is really too much to describe in one post — but I will give it a go. Most of the island is geared toward entertainment, with much for the seasoned traveller to try out. The main feature is a snaking tubular arrangement, which brought to my mind images of a particularly bizarre accident in a pipe factory. This turns out to be a raceway where up to four teams can compete against each other, around three laps of the tubular track, in zippy little flying cars. Unfortunately, as a solo adventurer, I evidently didn’t count as a team and it flatly refused to rez me a race craft. I had more luck outside, where I took the opportunity to ride (and repeatedly crash) a rather skittish jet-ski. Again, a track has been laid out to allow you and your friends to race these unmanageable brutes. Continue reading

Can Sky News Rise to Second Life?

Sky News in the virtual world of Second Life

Sky News, the leading satellite news broadcaster in the UK, assisted by brand consultants and SL builders Rivers Run Red, recently launched »an island« in the virtual world of Second Life. The launch event was tied into a broadcast from the Guardian Hay Festival, an annual literary festival held in the picturesque and distinctly bibliophilic town of Hay-on-Wye. Sky News are setting out to be the first real-world television news service to establish a permanent bridgehead in the virtual world, and thus steal a march on their opposition. Until now, UK television news and current affairs programmes have had only sporadic involvement in Second Life, most recently with the broadcast of BBC2‘s “The Money Programme” (also managed by Rivers Run Red).

I understand there were virtual queues of around 700 people trying to gain access to the launch event, which garnered a lot of good press in the blogosphere. However, as I tend to avoid such functions and their attendant lag, I did not venture into the island until much later, once the fuss had died down. To say the site is now quiet is something of an understatement. I have been back a few times, and on each occasion there have been at most 3 or 4 other visitors. Continue reading

Entropia to Expand Its Virtual World For China

MindArk, makers of the virtual world Entropia Universe, will build a virtual world for the Cyber Recreation Development Corporation, which is backed by the Beijing Municipal People’s Government, that will support up to 7 million users connected at the same time, according to a press release. The press release isn’t entirely clear on whether the 7 million concurrency figure is in a single shard, or copy of the virtual world (as in Second Life), or across many shards (as in World of Warcraft). A clue: “The cooperation agreement with China will generate hundreds of new planets and open up space for travel between the planets.”

It does sound like Entropia will be opened up to other companies and governments who want to build their own “planets” there: “The technology introduced with this project will enable other companies within media, film, music and gaming industries, or other content providers, to acquire their own planet within Entropia Universe. In turn, this will provide a diverse, entertaining and interesting three-dimensional virtual universe of vast proportions for participants to explore. A number of the world’s largest corporations within the aforementioned business sectors are currently in negotiations to purchase their own planet within Entropia Universe.” Continue reading

Court Rules Against Linden Lab Terms of Service

According to a court brief I’ve just been emailed, a Pennsylvania court has allowed a lawsuit filed against Philip Rosedale and Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, to move forward despite Rosedale’s motion to dismiss the suit or have it arbitrated. The decision is significant in that the court has judged the SL Terms of Service to be insufficient to the job of adjudicating this particular dispute, and the judge in the case went so far as to characterize the ToS as a contract of adhesion — a contract that isn’t necessarily enforceable because it has more or less been forced on a party with weaker bargaining powers (i.e., the SL user) on a “take it or leave it” basis. The brief itself is linked from this Web page. The decision could have important ramifications for the way in which many virtual worlds come to be governed, possibly giving more rights to their residents than they have enjoyed before. Continue reading

Multiverse Wins $4 Million in Funding

Multiverse, the open virtual-world building platform complete with universal browser being developed by some early Netscape employees, has just won $4.175 million in funding, according to a press release I’ve just been emailed. Congrats to Corey and the rest of the gang, who have been looking for this money for some time. The cash comes from Sterling Stamos Capital Management, and Multiverse says it will use the money to staff up and head for a launch of their product later this year or early next. (It’s already in beta.) Joanna Strober, director of Private Equity at Sterling Stamos, will join the Multiverse board.

Multiverse have to feel relieved by this development, as it was beginning to look like it was taking longer than it should for them to find this round. It’s good news for those of us interested to see what the Multiverse network of virtual worlds will look like. Perhaps more important than the launch of the platform itself is the launch of some games and virtual worlds for it, since it’s those that will draw people in. Tons of people are developing for it; we look forward to a release.

Full text of press release after the jump. Continue reading

Japanese Child Avatar Portraits from Second Life

Eva and Franco Mattes' Annoying Japanese Child Dinosaur portaits from the virtual world of Second LifeEva and Franco Mattes, the Italian artists and pranksters who put on the 13 Most Beautiful Avatars show in February, have another series of portraits on display, starting June 2. This time it’s Annoying Japanese Child Dinosaur, a portrait series featuring avatars constructed in the virtual world of Second Life to resemble Japanese children. (I.e., residents’ avatars, not avatars constructed specially for the show.) The title of the show is apparently taken from a James Patrick Kelly novella titled Mr. Boy, which is “the tale of a genetically stunted 12-year-old who literally lives inside his mother, who has turned herself into a three-quarter-scale model of the Statue of Liberty. And his best friend, Stennie, is a child-dinosaur,” according to Franco. Very Second Life. The February show in New York was fairly gorgeous. This show, at Dockswiss in Luzern, Switzerland, is not to be missed if you’re anywhere nearby. There’s an opening reception for the artists on Friday, June 1, from 6-8pm. If you miss them there, you may be able to catch them on »Cosmos Island«, where they’re reenacting Joseph Beuys 7,000 Oaks as part of a series of Synthetic Performances, or reenactments of historical performances by artists like Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, and Valie Export inside synthetic worlds such as Second Life. Definitely worth checking out. Be grateful that two such creative minds as Eva and Franco are working in SL. They push the boundaries of art and performance in the real world; it’s interesting to see how they approach the same task in Second Life.

McKinsey Launches US$20,000 Contest in SL

McKinset launches US$20,000 competition in the virtual world of Second Life

Consultants McKinsey & Co. have launched a Virtual Venture Competition in the virtual world of Second Life. [Via Sebastian Kupers, who also provided the image above.] The competition is open to students and young professionals no more than 32 years old, and first prize is US$20,000 in training and career counselling. Teams get 45 days to build a business, but there’s no fixed start or end date, you can apparently jump in at any time. Only a limited number of teams will receive initial funding, however. Speaking of funding, McKinsey is so adamant that no outside funding be used that it will be monitoring account balances during the competition (see the FAQ), so if you want to play, you’ll have to roll a new alt for the purpose. I actually think this sounds like a great project; it should attract young people who aren’t necessarily SL residents already, and it’s a nice vote of confidence that SL is a place with real lessons to be learned. The build looks pretty nice too. Check out McKinsey’s »orientation island« and its »Infocenter«.

Virtual Munich Launched in Second Life

Virtual Munich launched in the virtual world of Second Life

Metaverse services company in-world momentum has begun construction on a virtual Munich in Second Life, the company announced today. Tourist attractions like the Marienplatz, the Viktualienmarkt, and the Frauenkirche should be built out by the end of June, and offices and shopfronts will eventually be offered for rent to SL members. There are a number of blog entries in English, and you should be able to follow the project’s construction at the site. While there’s not much here to get excited about yet, one interesting aspect is the entry detailing how the team shrank Munich down to manageable size. In the end, though, this isn’t the kind of virtual reflection of real-world people, activity and events that could be one of the most interesting uses of Second Life, but only a virtual tourist attraction and demo project. There’s a lot of potential here, though, given the density of tech in Munich, so we look forward to seeing where the SL version of the city goes.

Anshe to Launch Inter-World Financial Market

Virtual entrepreneur Anshe Chung will launch a virtual world-spanning financial market in early June, according to a news release on the Anshe Chung Studios site. The service will “allow direct capital flow and investment across virtual world boundaries,” and will link the markets of Second Life, Entropia Universe and IMVU. Anshe Chung Studios — which is run by German citizens Ailin and Guntram Graef — will provide “a virtual financial market, financial products and a set of services” linking the three worlds. Among other things, the service will allow Second Life residents to invest their Linden dollars in things like malls and other locations in Entropia. Second Life land funds and similar instruments would be available for investment by holders of IMVU and Entropia currency, and IMVU fashion businesses might receive investments in L$ or PED (the Entropia currency). It remains to be seen whether there’s much of a market for such inter-world investment, but Anshe has a very interesting take on the possible effects of making financial borders more porous: Continue reading

CBS Features Machinima in Upfront Presentation

The Upfronts are the week when television networks show off the season’s upcoming shows to advertisers, hoping to win them over and grab fistfuls of their cash. For that reason, they’re very important, and the networks make sure their presentations are top-notch and designed to entertain. CBS made its showing yesterday afternoon at Carnegie Hall — and kicked it off with a machinima piece (produced by the Electric Sheep Company, sponsors of this blog) showing an avatar of JoAnn Ross, the president of network sales, flying around the virtual world of Second Life, according to Paul LaMonica of CNN/Money (who wasn’t sure it really was SL, apparently). CBS hasn’t posted the video on YouTube yet, but it will apparently be up there eventually, 3pointD hears, though it could take a week or two. The network is definitely taking a brave step into the future with the use of machinima in such a context, but it isn’t yet moving around the present very quickly, it seems. You can look for more good stuff in this vein from CBS, I’d bet. What I like about it is that it’s the kind of thing that will drive adoption of virtual worlds.

Wirecard Bank To Open In Second Life, Entropia

German bank Wirecard Bank AG has opened »an island« in the virtual world of Second Life, according to a press release [< -- registration required]. The German financial services provider is also planning to set up shop in Entropia Universe, it says, which implies that it may be one of the five winners of the banking licenses that Entropia recently auctioned. Continue reading

Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe Comes to SL [+]

Nashville's Bluebird Cafe comes to the virtual world of Second Life

Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, which has nurtured a few of the biggest country and western music stars to emerge in the last 25 years, will start streaming video of its shows into the virtual world of Second Life this evening, 15 May, 3pointD hears. The Bluebird Cafe SL, located in the »Nashville Music City region« of Second Life, replicates the tiny music club in Nashville, and was built out by a firm called Sansoft. The club will apparently be streaming its shows into SL six days a week, beginning tonight with Fred Eaglesmith. This is pretty cool. Most of Second Life’s native musicians who’ve seen the most success are small acts that play intimate venues like the Bluebird. How cool would it be to tie the two types of gig together, so that the venue became a place to see not only emerging talent from Nashville, but emerging talent in a similar vein from Second Life. Who knows, it might even get some SL musicians in front of the ears of the talent scouts lurking at Nashville’s Bluebird.

[UPDATE: One interesting aspect about this project is the fact that the virtual Bluebird will charge an admission charge of between L$1,000 and L$2,500, or about US$3-9. (This information wasn’t apparent until a press release appeared after my earlier post.) Most SL establishments don’t dare charge anything for admission, so it will be interesting to see whether the Bluebird is both brave and shrewd (quite possible) or just foolhardy. The question is, are these acts you’d pay that kind of money to watch on the Web? The SL experience is enhanced, but audiences aren’t used to being asked to pay. This is an experiment to watch, in any case.]

iCommons Dubrovnik To Get Second Life Arm

iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik to held in parallel in the virtual world of Second LifeThis year’s iCommons Summit, the annual gathering of 300 leading thinkers working toward a free Internet for all, will be held in parallel in the virtual world of Second Life, according to the summit’s Web site. The summit, which takes place this year in Dubrovnik, “will be run in parallel in Second Life,” according to the site. In addition, “all iSummit keynote addresses will be streamed into Second Life, and video and artwork from the Summit’s Artists in residence programme and some parallel sessions will also be available on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s »Annenberg Island« in Second Life,” where the summit will be hosted. (The USC site also has an announcement regarding the event.) Held this year on 15-17 June, the summit is a three-day meeting of “300 of the world’s leading intellectuals, authors, lawyers, artists and technologists on the cutting edge of Internet policy” who meet to talk about “the importance of a free Internet for free culture, new rules to keep the internet free, how to build free culture communities and the lessons we can learn from pirates.” I’d say this is valuable stuff to make available through Second Life. Last year’s summit, held in Rio, was apparently quite the hot event. What will be more interesting is when the organizers bring the two realities together, so that the virtual event isn’t held in parallel with the real-world event but is simply another part of a single whole. This’ll do for now, of course. Anyone planning to attend, in either reality?

Entropia News: MasterCard Deal, RL Bank, More

Entropia cash cards to get MasterCard brandingA small raft of news emerged from the virtual world of Entropia Universe this week, including tie-ups with MasterCard and a real-life bank, and a new awards show being put on by virtual entrepreneurs Anshe Chung and Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs.

First up, MasterCard. Entropia has been trying to implement a real-life card for some time. A year ago, it gave its customers the ability to deposit real money to their game accounts via a bank card used at an ATM. Cash was withdrawn from your real-world account, converted on the fly into PED, Entropia’s virtual currency (which is fixed at 10 to the U.S. dollar), and deposited into your Entropia account. Entropia also has a reloadable debit card that you can deposit your PED to, which is then available as real-world cash at ATMs. Now, the company has struck a new deal with a financial institution that can give its cards MasterCard branding, Entropia says: “The new card will be cheaper to use for our customers, and have more functions including MasterCard branding which will allow the card to be used in retail outlets as well as traditional ATMs.” [Via RCEUniverse.] Continue reading

Romanian Political Leaders Invited to Second Life

On May 19, Romania will hold a referendum on whether to impeach its suspended president, Traian Basescu, who has been charged with violating the country’s constitution. Before that time, members of the Romanian community in the virtual world of Second Life would like to hear from him and other Romanian political leaders in a virtual venue that’s been built out for the purpose. The two-minute video above provides a tour of a nice build that’s apparently designed to host a debate between real Romanian political leaders, should they care to put in an appearance. The »debate hall« looks fairly accomodating, and comes complete with voting mechanisms and a press room that’s apparently wired to provide television feeds. The video cites 20,000 Romanian Second Life users, and says around 800 a day are visiting the in-world location. Of those polled, 95 percent say they’d like to participate in an electoral meeting in SL. Continue reading

Vauxhall Launches User-Generated SL Guide

Vauxhall Launches user-generated Second Life GuideBritish carmaker Vauxhall is entering the virtual world of Second Life with the creation of a user-generated guide that will be assembled over the next month, according to a press release. The Corsa Guide site for SL provides a fairly long list of locations (“as diverse as wonderful water parks, awesome fantasy gardens and crazy nightclubs where anything is possible”), complete with teleport links. SL members can visit the locations and vote on them using Corsa kiosks located there. The top ten results will be “unveiled” (in what form the press release doesn’t say) in Mid-June as the Corsa Guide to Getting a (Second) Life. Besides being a mildly interesting way to have a Second Life presence, Vauxhall’s project — as well as the many other guides to SL now appearing or in the works — also points up the continuing need for better search tools for the virtual world. But that’s a subject for another post. As well as the continuing need for an SL presence for those little guys in the Vauxhall ads, who so clearly belong in Second Life. Why weren’t those guys included in the project? That’s what I want to know.

Playboy Magazine Enters Second Life

Playboy Magazine Enters Second Life

If you check out the latest ad buy on 3pointD’s cousin publication, the Second Life Herald (see the right sidebar, top), you’ll see that the inevitable is finally about to happen: Playboy Magazine is entering the virtual world of Second Life. No word yet on what form Playboy’s presence there will take, but it would seem to be the perfect place for them. After all, constructing a sexy avatar for yourself is just an extreme version of the airbrushing that often goes on in the pages of higher-end skin mags like Playboy. The possibilities, of course, are very interesting: in-world girlie mag to compete with Marilyn Murphy‘s Players? A Playboy mansion where a virtual Hef and the bunnies will hang out? (Second Lifer’s won’t have any trouble finding things to do in the Grotto.) If there are virtual bunnies, will Playboy take as good care of them as they take of the real ones? RL Playboy Playmates are pretty much set for life; Playboy offers them jobs (albeit they’re usually jobs as professional cheesecake) and often does stuff like help pay for their education. In return, the organization gets a steady supply of buxom women to decorate their parties and functions with. Working as a virtual fleshpot is already a popular pursuit in Second Life; why not get paid a decent wage for it? And while it’s still exploiting the female image, you can’t say it’s exploitative of the women being photographed or hired, since you don’t know whether there’s a woman behind that curvy female av. All very interesting. The ad says Playboy won’t hit SL until June, but you can already sign up for email updates. The shape of things to come? We’ll see.